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Playoffs inch closer with win
S.J. knocks off depleated Stars
4/9/06 - by Mike Lee

San Jose's 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars was an important step for the Sharks who are attempting to qualify for the playoffs, but the team shouldn't place their order for Championship rings quite yet. Yes, Dallas is almost assured of the second seed in the up coming playoffs, but the three goal margin of victory for the Sharks didn't come against Dallas' A-team.

Mike Modano missed his second consecutive game because of a knee injury and defenseman Willie Mitchell was also a scratch, so the Stars were without a couple of key pieces of firepower. Add to the equation that there isn't much motivation for the Stars to win games right now, the Sharks victory should be taken with a grain of salt.

"We thought they might be a little weary, especially this time of year, and psychologically they can go up or down," Sharks head coach Ron Wilson said. "You want to jump a team like that as quickly as you can, and we had a lot of energy."

It was a game the Sharks needed to win, and when the opposition hands you ten power play opportunities, you'd better capitalize. San Jose took that high road and converted on two of those opportunities and kept the Stars from mounting any serious attacks on the lead once the Sharks took control in the 2nd period.

After Steve Bernier staked San Jose to an early lead with his 13th of the season, Patrick Rissmiller provided all the offense the Sharks would need with a power play goal five minutes into the middle period.

Sergei Zubov countered with the Stars lone tally on a 5-on-3 chance after Mark Smith and Josh Gorges were whistled for separate tripping infractions just 9 seconds apart.

The Sharks scoring leaders then took things into their own hands. Jonathan Cheechoo scored his 49th of the season on a one-timer from the slot. Cheechoo's linemate Joe Thornton setup the goal with one of the best passes of the season. Fighting off a defender behind the Stars goal, Thornton kept control of the puck along the end boards, before flipping a blind backhand pass to Cheechoo who one timed the shot past Marty Turco.

Patrick Marleau would push the Sharks lead to three goals with his 34th of the season on another pass from Thornton. The Sharks captain was parked just outside the left post, when Thornton fired a diagonal pass through the slot from the top of the right circle.

"I should have had a couple of goals earlier with (Thornton)," said Marleau. "I'm glad he stuck with me and found me the third time."

Marleau buried Thornton's pass for this 84th point of the season, tying him with Owen Nolan for the franchise record for most points in a season. The goal was also Marleau's 20th power play goal of the season, which is a franchise record. Thornton broke an NHL record for most points by a single player who had played for more than one team in a season.

Vesa Toskala turned aside 21 of 22 shots to earn his 20th victory of the season.

"You put a desperate team on the power play nine times in the first two periods, and you are going to get what you earn," Dallas coach Dave Tippett said. "The referees were a non-factor tonight. It was all us."

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1 2 3 T
DAL 0 1 0 1
SJ 1 3 0 4
1st period - 1, San Jose, Bernier 13 (Goc, Thornton), 6:44.
2nd period - 2, San Jose, Rissmiller 3 (Ehrhoff, Stevenson), 4:47, (pp). 3, Dallas, Zubov 13 (Jokinen, Boucher), 12:14, (pp). 4, San Jose, Cheechoo 49 (Thornton), 14:03. 5, San Jose, Marleau 34 (Thornton, Preissing), 15:47, (pp).
3rd period - None.
1st period - Daley, DAL, double minor (high-sticking), 1:21; Arnott, DAL (hooking), 11:14.
2nd period - Barnes, DAL (hooking), 0:56; Guerin, DAL (high-sticking), 2:58; Smith, SJS (tripping), 11:44; Gorges, SJS (tripping), 11:53; Turco, DAL, served by Guerin (roughing), 14:36; Klemm, DAL (tripping), 14:36; Ott, DAL, double-minor-misconduct (roughing, holding), 16:56.
3rd period - Turco, DAL, served by Miettinen (interference), 8:35; Smith, SJS (tripping), 14:14.
  Shots Saves
DAL - Turco 36 32
SJ - Toskala 22 21
Shots On Goal
1 2 3 T
DAL 4 6 12 22
SJ 12 20 4 36
Power Play Conversion
DAL 1 of 3
SJ 2 of 10
3 Stars of the Game
Joe Thornton
Patrick Rissmiller
Patrick Marleau
Referees: Brad Meier, Kelly Sutherland. Linesmen: Darren Gibbs, Andy McElman.

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